SUMMARY: At a time of national turmoil, the lives of four boys become connected as each struggles to accept his sexuality and to address the challenges he faces in life. To the extent the boys succeed in coming to grips with those challenges, it may be in ways that prove surprising or troubling. This story is also being published on my blog and you can find a longer synopsis there. While some events, locations and features in the story have been moved forward or back in time for dramatic and other purposes, it takes place during an era when prejudice against homosexuals is rampant and the gay revolution in America is still in its infancy. Italics are typically used within the story to indicate what a character is thinking or saying to himself. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.

WARNING: Sex is not the primary focus of this story. If you're looking for erotic content, you'll do much better with other stories on Nifty. While sexual content is secondary and incidental, the story does include some scenes that depict sex and violence, sometimes graphically depending upon the characters and circumstances involved. For that reason, the story is intended for mature audiences only. If you do not wish to read such material or it is illegal for you to do so, please look elsewhere. The story remains the property of the author and may not be reproduced in any form without written permission. It is protected by the copyright laws of the United States and other countries. You may download a single copy to read offline and to share with others as long as you credit me as the author, but you may not use this work for commercial purposes. You may not use any of the characters, bars or other fictional locations described in the story in your own work without my explicit permission. Nor may you use, alter, transform, or build upon this story in any way.

AUTHOR NOTES: This is my first effort at writing a story. As a general rule, I only plan to publish one chapter a week, usually on Thursdays. The latest chapter will always be posted on my blog before being published here. You may want to bookmark the location of my blog in the event you cannot find the story here at some point in the future and you wish to continue reading it: This chapter completes Andy and Tommy’s little vacation at the beach. Next week the story will shift the focus back to Nolan and Josh, at least briefly, so you may want to refresh your memory by taking another look at Chapter 43, especially how things were left at the end; or, at the very least, the summary of Chapter 43 you can find here. As always, comments and constructive criticism are welcome. Flames will be ignored. If you would like to let me know what you think, feel free to contact me at Thanks for reading the story. I hope you enjoy it.

THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER: In Chapter 45, Andy and Tommy have breakfast in town and then visit one of the beachfront stores. Tommy picks out a swimsuit, one that leaves Andy hyperventilating. After changing at the hotel, the two visit the boardwalk where they explore more of the shops. Later they end up at Funland, an amusement arcade. They have a good time riding the bumper cars and Tommy ends up winning a teddy bear. Then they head off to Poodle Beach. On the way Andy spots a boy lingering near the beach who is just coming to grips with being gay. He thinks about inviting the boy to join the two of them, but realizes he isn't ready for that. Andy and Tommy spend the rest of the day at the beach, getting sunburned in the process. They end up being invited to four private parties that evening. On the way back to the hotel they spot the boy they had run into earlier, seemingly forlorn. Tommy tosses his teddy bear to the kid so he'll have something to hug at night. Back at the hotel Andy becomes too aroused. Even though he hasn't brought condoms or lube along, he pleads with Tommy to bareback him. Tommy refuses. After masturbating together, the two fall asleep. Later they have dinner and take in the parties they were invited to. At the last one, an older man solicits Tommy for sex, embarrassing him in the process. Tommy tells the man off privately and then leaves with Andy. Unaware of what happened, Andy gives vent to his jealousy. Tommy explains what took place, revealing his self-esteem issues in the process. Andy tries to address those issues and ends up laying out the choices Tommy has to decide among for the future. The two end up in bed, but forego having sex that evening.


Part IV - Virtues and Vices, Public and Private

Chapter 46

I had been planning to leave Rehoboth Beach around noon on Sunday so I could get back to the office, check my messages, and do some work. But now that Sunday had arrived I was having second thoughts. In spite of what had happened the previous evening, it seemed to me most of the weekend had been special for us. I didn’t want it to end.

By then we were tired so it took forever to get out of the hotel that morning. Eventually we had breakfast in town and decided to explore some more of the shops. We even went back to Funland. I wanted another chance at Tommy on the bumper cars, but the place was dead and we didn’t stay very long.

We spent most of the afternoon at the shore once again and this time I made sure both of us were wearing sunscreen. A lot people had already left for home so Poodle Beach was quieter now, less crowded, less raucous, less frenetic. The pounding waves seemed to renew and refresh the place and it seemed cleaner to me somehow. I was glad we had stayed.

Tommy was quieter as well. Guys were cruising him as much as ever, but he seemed oblivious to their efforts now. He just sat there staring out toward the horizon as far as he could without ever saying a word. When I asked whether he wanted to leave, he said no. But eventually we had no choice. It was time to head home. We had dinner at Blue Moon and then went back to the hotel. As I finished packing, Tommy handed me his swimsuit.

“I won’t have much use for this in Washington. Why don’t you keep it at that new place you keep talking about? If you ever decide to invite me over, maybe we can go swimming together at that pool you mentioned.”

I remember smiling at that. To me the invitation was already in the mail.

I paid the bill and we pulled on to the road out of town just as the sun was beginning to set.

“Did you have a good time this weekend, Tommy?” I asked.

“I did,” he responded, his voice drifting off. He seemed distracted somehow.

“Thank you for inviting me,” he added a minute or two later. “It helped me think about stuff.”

We continued driving in silence for a while. Finally, Tommy spoke up.

“Um, well, you said something last night about demons and needing some help. I doubt someone like you needs help from me, but I’d help if I could. Is there anything I can do, Andy?”

“Thanks,” I replied. “I appreciate the offer. Jesse was one of my demons. Not a real one, of course, but I’ve been spending too much time living in the past thinking about him. I think I’ve put that behind me this weekend, at least I hope I did. As for the other one, well, it’s stupid really, just something somebody said to me a long time ago I took too seriously. I’ll tell you about it some other time.”

“Why not now?” he asked, looking over at me. “It’s a long way to Washington so you have lots of time. Besides, you keep saying you want me to be your boyfriend, but how can I ever be that if you’re going to keep secrets from me?”

I remember sighing. He was right and I knew it, but I wondered whether I had enough courage to tell him the story. Even now, years later, I was still ashamed and embarrassed whenever I thought about what happened back then. I could never understand why I let something that silly bother me so much, but it did.

“Which do you want, the short or long version?” I asked.

“Long drive, long version,” he suggested.

“Okay,” I said, breathing in deeply.

Even as the words began flowing from somewhere within the deepest recesses of memory, I could see the whole thing flashing before my eyes again, could feel the agony and pain it had caused, the doubt that continued to linger even now.

I was born and raised in a small community in western Massachusetts. The name of the place was North Adams, but they called it Steeple City because it had so many churches. People were into religion big time back then, especially on Sundays when everyone dressed up in their finest and pretended to be nice to one another.

Like everyone else, my parents were very religious. We were Catholic and went to church every Sunday and lots of other days too. My parents would make me wear this little suit they had bought just for church. It was made of wool and made me itch. I hated that suit!

Sunday school was held on Saturday back then. It was boring and no one ever explained why we had to go. I guess it was mostly so they could drill the teachings of the Church into our tiny brains. There was this book with lots of questions and answers. They called it the catechism and I remember memorizing the whole thing from beginning to end because I wanted to go to Heaven. I figured knowing the rules would help.

I was pretty happy growing up, at least at first. I liked most sports, but baseball was my favorite. I played for my elementary school team and was on a Little League team as well. I listened to the Red Sox on the local radio station and they broke my heart every year. I had friends. Life seemed good. When I look through pictures of me back then, I see myself smiling a lot.

But then things started to change. It must have been around the time adolescence kicked in. I had no idea what was happening or why, but I was becoming moodier and more withdrawn. The smile disappeared from my face in pictures of me taken around then. I found myself spending more and more time alone in the woods trying to figure out the meaning of life.

I stopped playing baseball and drifted away from my friends. Maybe it was because my parents decided to send me to the public high school, not the Catholic one where a lot of them were going. Or maybe it was because I seemed different from them somehow.

Things were changing and no one ever explained to me why. There was no sex education in the schools back then and no one ever took me aside and gave me the talk. My parents never said boo to me about sex and neither did either of my brothers. They were older than me and had different interests and we had never been close to begin with.

We were too poor to have a computer and there were no books in the library that explained about sex. Or maybe there were but you knew you didn’t want to get caught looking at them because the librarians would tell your parents for sure. About the only thing I knew about sex back then was it was wrong. The Church taught me that.

I wasn’t sure why, but somehow I knew sex was a sin and most likely a mortal sin, the kind that guaranteed a young boy like me a one way ticket to Hell. And since I didn’t find burning in flames forever especially appealing, there was a part of me that tried really hard to avoid thinking about sex altogether.

But the more adolescence kicked in, the more curious I became and the harder it was not to think about it. I mean, everyone else seemed to know something about sex, but here I was fourteen years old and totally clueless. I didn’t know a single thing about sex.

I didn’t know what caused those wet dreams I was having. I didn’t even know they had anything to do with sex. Masturbation? Forget it! I had never heard that word or any of the rest of the words that meant the same thing. Sure, I could feel my penis going hard at times, but I had no idea what caused that or how you could make it go away. We never even used the word penis back then for crying out loud.

Like I said, when it came to sex, I was a naïf.

That changed the following summer. I had gone swimming up at the lake on one of those oppressively hot days in July. The water was cool and refreshing, but it only took an hour or so before I was bored. I dried myself off, changed into my jeans and a t-shirt, and headed home through the woods.

A couple hundred yards down from the lake a large rock guarded the path. To me that rock was a refuge, one of the places I liked to retreat to whenever I wanted to be alone. As I rounded a curve in the path that led to the rock, I could see someone already sitting on it. He was reading something, but I couldn’t see what exactly.

I knew who it was immediately. His name was Russell. He was a senior at my high school and one of the stars of our basketball team. Unlike me, he had a ton of friends, including a girlfriend.

Russell was taller than me and good-looking, with brown sandy hair and a really nice smile. He was only wearing his swimsuit that day. That wasn’t unusual. I often did the same thing myself when I went swimming. But for some reason that day I found myself staring at his body as I approached the rock. Unlike mine, which was puny and small, his seemed really nice.

Eventually he caught sight of me and hid whatever he was reading in his gym bag. He just stared at me as I approached, but I didn’t say anything. I mean, he was older than me and popular and I was nothing to him. So it surprised me when Russell spoke up as I was about to pass the rock.

“Hey,” he said looking directly at me and smiling. “What’s up?”

I looked up at him and tried to return his smile.

“Nothing,” I replied. “What were you looking at before? Was it a new comic book?”

“I wasn’t looking at anything,” he responded.

“I’m pretty sure I saw you looking at something,” I said.

“You might have, I guess,” he replied. “Your name is Andy, isn’t it? You’re a freshman, aren’t you?”

“I’ll be a sophomore this fall,” I replied. “You’re a really good basketball player Russell. I went to all of the games last year, at least the home ones.”

“Do you like basketball?” he asked.

“I do; I like most sports, but I’m just not tall enough to be good at basketball,” I replied. “I would never go out for the team.”

“Well maybe I could help you become better,” he said; “if you want to, that is. I bet I could teach you a lot of things.”

“Like what?” I asked.

“Well, like this magazine for one,” he said, retrieving it from his gym bag. “Do you want to look at it?”

From where he was sitting, I could see the cover and it had a picture of these two boys who were about the same age as me. To me they seemed like the cutest boys in the world, so sweet, so innocent, so beautiful. Like I said, I didn’t have many friends back then, but I liked both of those boys immediately.

“Sure. Let me see it,” I responded, reaching my hand up to take it from him.

“I can’t show you here,” he said. “Someone might come along. But if you want to go for a walk with me, I’ll show you.”

I remember hesitating momentarily. I’m not really sure why. It wasn’t like I was afraid or anything. I mean, I didn’t know Russell at all, but he seemed nice. He didn’t have any reason to be talking to a nothing like me, but he was. I liked him.

“Follow me,” Russell said, jumping down from the rock and shoving the magazine into the gym bag he was carrying.

That pretty much settled the whole thing for me. I followed him down the trail until we reached the spot where it forked. I was a little surprised when he turned left and followed the path that led deeper into the woods instead of the one that led down to our neighborhood. But I knew the path he was taking like the back of my hand so I followed along behind, matching my pace to his and staring at his well-tanned back.

A stream ran beside the path and both the path and the stream narrowed the deeper you entered the woods. Eventually the two crossed and you had to use a log to get to the other side. Once across, the path led up through some bushes into an open glade, then forked to the north and south. But Russell just walked across the glade and disappeared into the woods on the other side where there wasn’t really a path.

I followed him into those woods and eventually we ended up on a small hill covered in pine trees above one of the many small streams that fed into the lake. The trees cooled and shaded the spot, concealing it from prying eyes. Except for the bubbling stream below and an occasional bird singing its song, the two of us were alone.

Russell spread his towel on the ground, sat down, and motioned for me to join him. Once I did, he pulled the magazine out of his gym bag.

“I know I promised to show you this magazine,” he said, “but I’m not really sure I should. I mean, it’s about sex and I’m not sure you’re old enough to look at it.”

I remember my ears perking up the moment he said that.

“How old do you have to be?” I asked, hoping Russell was wrong.

“Oh, I don’t know,” he replied; “maybe thirteen or fourteen.”

“I’m fourteen,” I responded, relieved. “I’ll be fifteen next January.”

“Well, I guess maybe it would be okay then,” he said. “Do you know very much about sex?”

“No,” I responded. “I don’t know anything about it at all.”

“Oh, come on,” he replied. “You must know something.”

So then I did my best to explain how I didn’t know anything at all and he seemed to understand.

“I’m surprised,” he said, “but it’s nothing to worry about. I can teach you all about it if you want.”

I remember thinking this might be the only chance I ever got to learn about sex so I told him, yes, I wanted to learn whatever he knew. He handed the magazine to me, told me to look through it carefully, and said he would answer any questions I had when I was done.

I started to look through the pages. At first the two boys were just standing around in their clothes nonchalantly talking. But then they began kissing each other and not on the cheek like I was used to. They were kissing each other on the lips. Then they began stripping each other until they were totally naked.

I remember being shocked by that, but I tried not to show it. I mean, there were all kinds of things running through my head right about then. Part of me wanted to stop looking because I was thinking I would probably have to tell the priest about this when I went to confession and I wasn’t looking forward to that.

But another part of me didn't want to stop. For one thing, I didn’t want Russell to think I was some little kid; more importantly, those boys seemed to be having fun and I liked looking at them naked like that. So I decided to keep reading although by now my hand was shaking a little as I turned the pages.

The more I looked, the more shocking it got. A couple pages later the boy I thought was the cutest got down on his knees and began trying to swallow his friend’s penis. At first I wondered why he was doing that. But before I could figure that out, it got even more interesting.

He stopped doing that and instead got down on his hands and knees while his friend knelt down directly behind him. Then his friend started to push his penis into the cute boy’s rear end and both of them seemed to enjoy doing that even more. By then I was totally focused on that magazine, so focused I didn’t even notice my own penis had gone hard.

I was close to the end of the magazine now; and while the whole thing had been shocking, I remember gulping at what I saw next. They had two pages of the one boy’s penis slowly disappearing up the other boy’s rear end until eventually you couldn’t see anything at all except the one boy pressed tightly against the other.

It was hard to believe something that big could fit all the way into something that small. But it had and both of those boys were smiling and seemed to like the fact that it had.

And then I’ll never forget the last page. They had captioned that one “Intimacy” and the two boys had these looks on their face I’ll never forget. It just seemed like they were incredibly happy and I remember wishing I could be happy like that because I hadn’t been happy in a very long time.

“Did you like it?” Russell asked as I continued staring at that very last page.

“Um, well, I think so,” I responded. “But I don’t understand.”

“What don’t you understand?” he asked.

“Well, um, I guess I don’t understand any of it,” I replied. “I mean, for one thing, I thought sex had something to do with boys and girls.”

“It can,” Russell responded. “But there are all different kinds of boys and girls, just like there are all different kinds of sex. It doesn’t have to be between a boy and the kind of girl you’re thinking of. I had a girlfriend most of last year. Like the two boys in this magazine, we use to spend a lot of time kissing before we broke up. Do you know how to kiss, Andy?”

“Um, well, I use to kiss my Mom good-night,” I replied; “on the cheek. But that’s about it.”

“Kissing your Mom is a lot different than kissing someone you like. Do you want me to show you how to kiss?”

I hesitated for a moment, wondering whether it was okay to do something like that, but Russell didn’t seem to have a problem with it so I figured it must be okay.

“I guess it would be useful knowing how to do that,” I replied.

Russell leaned over, placed his lips on mine, and started kissing me, then pushing his tongue into my mouth and exploring it

He was right. It was a LOT different than the way I had ever kissed my Mom, but I liked it and it didn’t take too long before Russell said I had gotten the hang of the thing and kissed really good.

I remember being relieved when he said that. It seemed like I was finally beginning to learn stuff I needed to know; and if Russell thought I was good at kissing, maybe I wasn’t a dork after all.

Eventually Russell stood up, walked over to a tree stump nearby, and motioned for me to join him. When I got there, he started tugging at my t-shirt. I lifted my arms and let him pull it over my head. I was just standing there in my jeans, facing him, and then he tossed my t-shirt aside.

“If you want to learn more, you’ll have to take them off,” he said, looking at me and smiling.

“What?” I asked, confused.

“Your jeans,” he said. “You need to take them off.”

By then I wanted to learn more so I figured I should do whatever he suggested. Still, I’ll admit my hands were shaking a lot as I began fiddling with the buckle on my belt. Eventually I succeeded in pulling it open and with that my pants fell away to the ground. Except for my briefs and my sandals, I was totally naked now.

Russell was equally naked, of course, because he was just wearing his swimsuit, but somehow I felt a lot more exposed.

“Them too,” Russell said, staring at my briefs; and by now they were straining to contain the bulge that had grown so mysteriously within them.

“Um, well, I’m not sure I should,” I said. “I mean, my penis has gotten hard. It happens sometimes. I don’t know why it does that, but it does.”

“That’s okay,” he said. “Mine is hard too. You just can’t see that because I’m wearing a jockstrap beneath my swimsuit. It’s normal for them to get hard.”

With that reassurance I tugged at my briefs, allowed them to slide to my feet, and then slipped out of them entirely. I remember being embarrassed and could feel myself blushing as I stood there naked before him.

Russell just giggled and began tugging at the drawstrings on his swimsuit. The suit quickly fell to the ground without any real effort. Like he had said, he was wearing a jockstrap and I could see it concealed a bulge even larger than mine.

“Why don’t you kneel down and take off my jockstrap?” Russell suggested.

By then it seemed like I was in some kind of trance. I remember kneeling down directly in front of him, placing my hands on his jockstrap, and gently tugging it down from his waist. As it broke loose from the elastic that had been holding it firmly in place, his hardened penis snapped roughly against my face.

Russell placed his hand on it and began brushing it across my face again and again, eventually allowing it to come to a rest against my lips.

“Do you want to do it, Andy?” he asked.

“Do what?” I replied.

“Do you want to give me a blowjob? You know, like that kid in the magazine is doing.”

The word seemed a little harsh to my ears at the time, but Russell was still smiling and I guess that made the difference for me.

“Sure,” I responded.

Without thinking about it, I found my mouth opening, then engulfing his penis. I guess I must have tried to swallow it too fast because I started to gag and had to pull off.

“Slowly,” Russell cautioned. “Start with the tip, then suck and blow real slowly, and give it lots of tongue.”

I started licking the tip and it surprised me because there was some kind of liquid coating it. But it didn’t taste bad so I continued my labors, slowly moving down the shaft toward his groin. I wasn’t able to swallow the whole thing, but Russell didn’t seem to mind. He was enjoying what I was doing and moaning a lot.

“Do you like doing that?” he whispered, placing his hands on my shoulders, then rubbing my shoulders and neck.

“Yes,” I lied, embarrassed.

The truth is swallowing his penis was kind of boring, at least for me. It was only when he put his hands on my shoulders and began caressing them and my neck that my body had suddenly come alive and been overwhelmed with pleasurable feelings I had never experienced before. It was awesome.

He let me do it to him a little longer, then helped me back to my feet.

“Here,” Russell said, leading me over toward where his towel was.

“Why don’t you lay down on my towel and let me give you a back rub, Andy.”

I did what he said, resting my head against my folded arms. Russell placed the magazine in front of me along with a small tube he had retrieved from his gym bag. I figured maybe it was some new kind of suntan lotion and didn’t give it much thought. Instead I tried to relax.

Russell positioned himself between my thighs and started massaging my back with his hands.

I remember enjoying the feel of his hands on my back and it didn’t take long before I was totally relaxed.

“That feels real good, Russell,” I whispered, which only encouraged him to intensify his efforts.

I’m not really sure how long he massaged me, but eventually he leaned closer and kissed the side of my face. As he did, I felt the tip of his hardened penis brushing against my rear end.

“Are you having a good time, Andy?” he asked, softly. “I am.”

“Yeah, me too,” I whispered. “I really like that back rub you’re giving me. I like everything about being here with you, Russell.”

“That’s great, Andy,” he responded. “Just relax because the best is still to come. But first you need to pull yourself up to your hands and knees.”

I may not have known very much, but I wasn’t completely stupid either. I had been studying that magazine carefully and it occurred to me that maybe Russell was going to try pushing his penis inside me; and, the truth is, I had decided by then I would let him do that to me even though I was definitely nervous about the whole thing.

Like I said before, I hadn’t been happy in a long time and just being there alone with Russell was making me happy. So I did as he asked and pulled myself up to my hands and knees.

“Perfect,” Russell said, kneeling down behind me.

A couple of moments later he began softly massaging my buttocks and thighs. Then he reached over and plucked the tube from the ground.

“This is a special lotion, Andy,” he said. “It will make everything go smoother.”

He started it brushing it between my cheeks and then into my hole. It was cool and different and it didn’t sting or anything. I remember looking back momentarily and he was brushing some on to his penis as well. When he was done he set the tube aside and turned the pages of the magazine to the end.

“Do you know what those two are doing, Andy?” he asked.

The truth is I didn’t know for sure, but something told me this must be what I had been wondering about for so long.

“Um, well, I mean, it seems like both of them are happy, but I’m not really sure why exactly. Is it because they’re having sex?”

“Exactly,” he responded. “There are lots of different names for what they’re doing, but they’re definitely having sex and they’re happy because it feels so good for both of them. Have you ever been cornholed, Andy?”

“No,” I responded and by then I was getting even more nervous and my body was beginning to shake a little. “Will it hurt?”

“No, not at all,” he responded. “You just have to relax. I mean, I liked having you blow me, but cornholing you is going to be so much better. Believe me. You’re going to like it a lot. It won’t hurt at all.”

Like I said, I was nervous, no doubt about it, but nothing he had done up until then had hurt and most of it had made me feel really good. I trusted Russell.

“There are three stages to it,” he continued and I remember being glad he was explaining everything so carefully to me because I wanted to learn.

“First, I have to mount you.”

“Like this,” he added; and then he pressed forward gently and I could feel the tip of his penis sliding inside me and then suddenly pop and come to a stop in what seemed like an open space.

“Oh, jeez,” I moaned. It just felt incredibly good and I guess Russell was feeling good too because he was moaning as well.

“Ugh, ooh, oh God.”

“So now you’re mounted, Andy,” he finally said after both of us had soaked in all of the pleasure.

“And the next thing I have to do is to penetrate you all the way, just like in those pictures you’re looking at. That shouldn’t take very long because I can see how much you like what I’m doing. I guess it comes natural to someone like you. Are you sure you haven’t been cornholed before? You’re definitely good at it.”

“No,” I responded, “never.”

I remember being happy Russell thought I was doing it right.

“Well that’s going to make it even more special then,” he said. “Because once I’ve penetrated you all the way, then we’re ready for the final stage. They can’t really show that in the magazine too well. That’s where I actually fuck you and at the very end I’ll be planting my seed inside you as well.”

By then I was pretty sure I understood the mounting and penetrating parts. I could see the penetrating in the pictures and I had felt myself being mounted and I liked that. But I had no idea what the seed planting was all about.

“Why would you want to plant a seed inside me, Russell?” I asked.

“That’s what a man does to a woman, Andy,” he said. “He plants his seed inside her and sometimes it grows into a baby. But that won’t happen with you. You can’t get pregnant like other women. But that’s really the only difference.”

I suppose it’s hard to believe, but I remember a light going off in my head. I mean, I knew by then storks didn’t bring babies, but I wasn’t exactly sure how they got made. And now I did.

“It’s what going to make it so special between us,” Russell continued. “That I won’t have to worry about getting you pregnant, I mean. I just need to be sure it’s what you want me to do before I actually do it to you.”

“If it doesn’t hurt and makes both of us feel good, why wouldn’t I?” I asked. “I like you, Russell.”

“And I like you too, Andy,” he replied. “That’s what’s going to make it so special with you. Do you remember me mentioning how my girlfriend and I broke up?”

“Yeah, I responded. “I’m sorry about that.”

“I’m not,” Russell said. “Because now you can be my new girlfriend, at least once I plant my seed inside you. You want to be my girlfriend, don’t you, Andy?”

It seemed like a really strange question to me.

“I don’t understand,” I said. “I’m a boy, not a girl.”

“You are now,” he responded. “But letting me do this to you means I’ll be stripping your masculinity away; and once I plant my seed inside you, you’ll be my new girlfriend. We just won’t be able to tell anyone that. It’ll have to be our little secret. But you’ll like being my girlfriend. You’ll like it a lot.”

With that he started to press forward, but what he had said frightened me.

“No,” I said, tightening myself so he couldn’t push in. “That doesn’t make any sense, Russell.

“We can be friends, boyfriends,” I continued, “but I can’t be your girlfriend because I’m not a girl.”

“Listen, you little bitch,” he said. “If you were really a boy, you wouldn’t be letting me fuck you like a girl. But you’re not a boy. You’re queer and everyone knows queers are just boys who want to be girls. Unlike you, I’m a man and I’m going to pound that little cunt of yours until you understand the difference between us and finally admit you want to be my girlfriend.”

He pressed forward as hard as he could and it hurt. But I managed to pull away and stood up, totally confused by then.

Russell just watched in silence while I struggled to pull on my clothes. I looked over at him, not really knowing what I should do or say. Part of me wanted to kiss him and tell him I liked him and was sorry for whatever I had done wrong; that I was kind of confused and thought I should probably go and maybe we could try again tomorrow when maybe I would be less confused.

But I didn’t say any of that. I just turned and headed for the glade and then I heard him giggling.

“Andy,” he said, and I stopped and looked back at him. He was still smiling at me and I was glad he was smiling. Maybe things would be okay after all.

“It doesn’t change anything, Andy,” he said. “You’re still queer. Someday you’ll be begging a guy to fuck you just like a girl. Because that’s what you really are, you know; you’re really a girl, not a boy.”

I remember turning and running away and hearing him laughing for what seemed like forever. I could hear him laughing all the way home; and even after I was home, I could still hear him laughing. He was laughing when I climbed into bed that evening and I heard him laughing every night after that for a very long time.

So I guess Russell had succeeded in planting a seed after all, just not the kind he had planned or where he had planned. He had planted a seed of doubt in my mind because it was right at that moment I began wondering whether he was right about me.

“So there you have it, Tommy,” I concluded. “Now you know the truth about me. I’m really no different than Meghan, am I? She was your girlfriend. You fucked here. I want to be fucked just as much as she did, probably more, and I’m willing to give up whatever shred of masculinity I still have left to make that happen. I’ll be your girlfriend just like she was. Big fucking deal! It’s just a bunch of words. I don’t know why I give a shit what anyone thinks, but I do.”

By then we had crossed the Bay Bridge and we were on the final leg of the drive back to Washington. The silence in the car was overpowering and now I was sorry I had told him the story. Maybe he wouldn’t blow me off right there on the spot, but it was over between us. I knew it. How could he ever like or respect someone like me?

“Um, well, I’m not sure what to say, Andy,” Tommy finally replied. “I’m not as smart as you are or as good with words. I’ll probably say something wrong. I usually do. But I don’t understand why you would ever believe something ridiculous like that about yourself, that you’re not masculine.”

“I mean, do you really think it comes as some kind of big surprise you want me to do that to you? I’ve known that since we first met and I never thought for a moment you were less masculine because of it.”

“And it’s not like I didn’t want to do it. I did. But I could see how much it means to you and didn’t want you getting attached to me back then because I always disappoint everyone; my Dad, just about everyone really. So that’s why I held back.”

“And who knows? Maybe it was good I did hold off because now I’m not sure we should do something like that after everything you just told me.”

“Don’t say that Tommy,” I interjected. “I mean, I know it’s not the only ass in the world, but it’s the only one I have and I’m offering it to you. What am I supposed to think if you say no?”

He reached over and ran his hand up my thigh until it reached my butt, then let it linger there. By then my briefs were struggling to contain my bulge and the whole thing was becoming painful.

“We’ll see,” Tommy replied. “Let me think about it. I don’t want to make you relive what happened with Russell. But it’s definitely a very cute butt,” he added, grinning. “I’ll definitely keep that offer in mind.”

“But the point is the two of us doing that doesn’t make you any less masculine. I mean, sure, some dudes spend all their time running around the bars telling everyone how masculine they are. Does saying that make it true?”

“Look at all those dudes over at Outlaws who think wearing leather or riding a motorcycle makes them masculine. Lots of them are bigger queens than Miss Cherry. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but the whole thing is stupid. Hell, to me you’re one of the most masculine dudes I know in the bars, Andy. You really are.”

“You know, when I first started hustling, guys tried pulling that shit on me a lot; telling me how masculine they were, how pretty I was, whatever. Believe me, it got old really quick. Danny had told me it was important to flatter the johns, to listen to what they were saying and reinforce it for them.”

“But one night this dude was going on and on about how butch he was and how fem I was so I finally told him he could call me Tinkerbell for an extra ten bucks if that’s what it took to help him get off; that both of us had dicks and the only difference between us was he was paying me to suck his. I told that story to all of the boys at the Palermo and they laughed. I never realized I had the same problem until Teddy pointed it out.”

“I mean, the thing is, I use to get annoyed with effeminate boys when I first came to Washington. I guess I felt threatened by them at some level. I didn’t want other dudes to think I was like them. And then one night I started putting some kid down for being effeminate in front of Teddy and he asked me why I was doing that.”

“I tried to come up with an answer, but Teddy shot all of them down. He told me I was doing the same thing the johns liked to do, that it was my problem, not the kid’s. He told me I needed to get over it and he was right about that and I did.”

“This whole thing would be funny if it wasn’t so sad,” he continued. “It’s sad because I can see how much it bothers you and that bothers me. It’s funny because you understand me so well, but you can’t even see you’re doing exactly the same thing to yourself.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“You’re blaming it on yourself when you never did anything wrong. It wasn’t your problem, Andy. It was his. I mean, I don’t know why that dude would say something like that. It was cruel. There are lots of cruel people in the world. Maybe he was worried about his own masculinity and that was his way of dealing with it. Maybe there’s some other reason. I don’t know.”

“What I do know is the whole thing is crazy. Why are you beating yourself up over it?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “It’s stupid. I know it. And there are times when I get mad at myself for letting him get into my head like that. It’s just that I like you so much and I want to make you so happy, but then sometimes I worry you’ll think less of me if I do that.”

“Why would I?” he asked. “You said it last night, Andy. Love is about giving, not taking. I mean, I never thought much about stuff like that before, but giving yourself to me like that? What more could you do to show me how much you love me?”

“And what difference does it make after all? Hell, even if you were a girl, I would be the luckiest guy in the world. That clit of yours I’ve been sucking on is a monster, Andy. Meghan’s was just a pimple.”

I remember bursting out laughing the moment he said it.

And then he leaned over and buried his face in my groin and started making these ridiculous sounds. I almost drove the car off the road he was making me laugh so hard.

“Stop it,” I shouted. “You’re going to get us killed.”

But that only encouraged him more.

“Pussy! I need pussy,” he replied, ignoring what I had just told him.

He was pushing his face around in my groin pretending he was eating pussy; and by then I was laughing hysterically and Tommy was laughing as well.

Eventually, when I was all laughed out, he relented and turned serious again.

“You’re a terrific guy, Andy. I admire you more than anyone I can think of and I like you too. I like you a lot. More than Josh even; he was my first friend back in Vermont. That’s where I was before I came to Washington. I’ve never told anyone that except Danny.”

“But I like you more than Danny or Sean or Teddy. I like you more than I’ve ever liked anyone before and I like you exactly the way you are; insecure for sure and maybe a little too naïve and trusting at times, but definitely a teddy bear, my very own teddy bear.”

“Thanks,” I said.

I was still feeling ashamed and embarrassed, but he had done everything he could to reassure me and there was a genuineness to what he was telling me now that was comforting.

“I suppose I’m part of the problem too,” he sighed. “I mean, I’ve been calling you girl all this time, calling you babe, whatever. I never meant anything by that, Andy, but I’m really sorry about it. It’s just the way we talk on the streets. I don’t know why and I never thought anyone took stuff like that seriously. I guess that’s my problem. I don’t think. But I’ll try to stop, Andy. I really will.”

“I don’t take it seriously, Tommy,” I replied. “I know you’re just being playful and it makes me feel like you’re letting me into your world. I want to be part of your world so much.”

“How much?” he asked, looking over at me and grinning.

“What do you mean?” I replied.

“If I decided to go to California, would you come with me, Andy?”

“If you want me to, yes, I would.”

I was surprised at just how quickly the answer had come. Usually I would have hedged my answer, tried to buy myself time to think the whole thing through more rationally. But I loved Tommy and had told him the truth.

“Well, don’t go packing your bags anytime soon,” he replied. “I know how much you like that job of yours and would never ask you to give that up. Besides, like you said, life is more about the journey than the destination and I like the journey the two of us are on right now. The scenery is a whole lot better than California could ever be,” he added, looking over at me and grinning. “At least it is for me. I hope you feel the same way.”

“I do, Tommy.”

He said he wanted to go back to my place that evening so that’s what we did; and even though we never made love, I slept better just feeling his arms wrapped around me.